Transgender surgery for teens: Oliver's story

TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – According to the Journal of American Medical Association, transgender surgeries across the country are on the rise as more insurance companies are offering coverage for the procedures. And it’s not just adults interested in that procedure, a growing number of teens are as well.

Oliver Du Bois doesn’t take happy dinners with his family for granted.

“I know a lot of transgender kids, they don’t get the support of parents or friends or whatever and I have, like my entire family supports me, all my friends support me, I have teachers who support me and I’m very thankful,” Oliver shared.

Oliver was born Olivia. His mom says it was middle school when something changed. 

“He came to me one day and said, I just, I don’t feel like a girl. I am not comfortable,” Anne Du Bois, Oliver’s mom, said.

Oliver continued, “I started to have my friends call me Oliver. I had them use male pronouns and I realized how comfortable I was.”

Oliver is among a growing number of teens investigating transgender surgery. Coincidently, Suzanne Jackman, MD, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, who Oliver was seeing for hypothyroidism, specializes in educating teens about the process.

Dr. Jackman says, “If they’ve truly been diagnosed with gender dysphoria after their early stages of puberty, they may be eligible for what is called ‘pubertal suppression’ where we prevent puberty from ensuing.”

Teens have to be at least 18 to get transgender surgery. Right now, Oliver is holding off on hormone therapy. Dr. Jackman warns that the surgery requires several procedures, some irreversible.

“Surgery is not something that you jump to initially, but it is part of the conversation,” Dr. Jackman continued.

Oliver plans to freeze his eggs if he decides to start the transgender surgical steps. His advice …

“If it makes you happier, if it makes you who you are, then why not. I know a lot of kids who would have probably not been here if they weren’t able to start hormone therapy,” exclaimed Oliver.

Transgender surgeries range from $20 to $30 thousand dollars. Since the procedure for teens raises ethical questions, experts, including Dr. Jackman, require mental health evaluations and for those professionals to stay involved with patients through the entire process.

Contributors to this news report include: Sarah Rosario, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Angela Clooney, Videographer.